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The scourge of the rental property management industry is the bad behavior that was justly penalized in Hennepin County District Court recently. The Star Tribune reported Nov. 20 that Judge Patrick Robben called the conditions at Steven Meldahl's properties in Minneapolis "horrific" and of "biblical plague proportions."

State Attorney General Keith Ellison and his deputies are to be applauded for using the available laws and regulations to hold accountable a violator who engages in predatory practices. Meldahl joins a frustrating list of awful managers in Minneapolis, including Spiros Zorbalas, Mahmood Khan, Stephen Frenz and Reese Pfeiffer, whose failures this paper has chronicled.

What angers the affected residents and the multi-housing industry is that it takes far too long for regulators to correct inappropriate or illegal conduct. Accountability for this kind of predatory behavior needs to come swiftly. These are, after all, the homes of renters who often lack resources and such injustice all too frequently victimizes our communities of color.

In the hospitality industry or any other workplace, regulators are swift to intervene when consumer or worker safety is at risk, especially when there is documented and repeated noncompliance. We shut the doors of a restaurant or factory that endangers people. While housing inspectors and regulators might write orders quickly on rental housing, enforcement of those orders is vital to resident health and safety.

Our industry does not need more rules and regulations. It needs better enforcement of the existing rules, which certainly should not require the level of the attorney general's intervention.

The Minnesota Multi Housing Association (MHA) strongly condemns Meldahl's illegal behavior, and we urge housing regulators to apply all their available tools to get bad actors out of the rental housing market. Before policymakers set about writing any more rules for the management companies that will follow the rules, they need to understand how we can better serve renters by enforcing existing laws against the very small number of predators in our industry.

For several years, MHA has called for stricter enforcement against bad behavior and targeted solutions against predatory rental increases. However, the housing activist class still chooses to vilify all property owners and managers, and to promote failed policies.

Getting enforcement of our existing laws done well isn't popular with activists nor the politicians they bully for more rules. But our industry wants to see fewer Steve Meldahls harming renters.

We're ready when you are.

Cecil Smith, of Minneapolis, is president and CEO of Minnesota Multi Housing Association.